English Studies in Canada
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I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in thinking that the term “postfeminism” is often and perhaps most frequently used—by the mainstream media generally and by actual people—as a kind of casual dismissal of feminism that comes implicitly coupled with the suggestion that the cutting-edge place to be these days, with regard to women, is the one where the old victim mentality has been sloughed off and a new flying-free-of-those-chains approach to gender in all its diversity and in all its equal opportunity has been boldly embraced. Given the terms of this unstated argument, any criticism of this postfeminism automatically slots the critic into the role of the relic, the leftover women’s libber still fighting battles that no longer need to be fought. And who among us, standing in front of our students or our colleagues, wants to be seen to be so pathetically tilting at windmills? Only the bravest. Or the least self-conscious. Because this form of postfeminism works to keep women quiet about their structural complaints and teaches them to interpret those complaints as being of individual rather than collective origin, it works as another new face of patriarchy.